These Parents Crossed The Line – And Everyone Was Watching

Discipline is one of the most discussed topics in the parenting community – and each family’s approach to discipline can widely vary.

Just as each child has their own unique personality and behaviors, each parent has their own interpretation of what punishment and reward systems work for them – and they’re often influenced by the way their parents raised and disciplined them as children.

Now, however, a disturbing video is making the rounds on social media showing one couple’s choice of punishment for their young son after a potty training accident.  The video concerned many who viewed it and was a catalyst for online discussion of appropriate discipline for children – and what happens when parents cross the line from punishment to abuse.

Café Mom reported:

The video, which originated on Snapchat, is captioned “Potty Training 101.” In the footage, a man picks up a small child, holds him upside down, and picks up a bottle of hot sauce. The man then pours some of the hot sauce down the child’s pants before sitting him down on the floor and then rubbing some of the hot sauce on his face. It’s truly disturbing to see.

The video first began making the rounds after it was shared in a private Facebook group. Members of the group grew concerned for the child and decided to share it publicly.  Shana Honeycutt of Edmond, Oklahoma, was one of the members who shared the video after coming across it in the private group. “As soon as I saw it, I was literally shaking and crying,” she told KFOR. “I absolutely, 100 percent believe that putting hot sauce in your child’s pants and wiping it on their face is absolutely child abuse.”

Honeycutt was also able to identify the parents… “It needed to be public. It didn’t need to be left in a private Facebook group where no one did or said anything about it,” she told KWTV.

Some parents took to social media to express their disgust at the parents in the video. 

KWTV in Oklahoma spoke with the child’s mother, who claimed the video was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.  She told the outlet,

“The video was played out to be something it wasn’t,” she said. You can see that nothing went down his pants, and nothing was in his mouth,” she said. “I would never put [my son] in harm’s way.”

Whatever the case may be, it is obvious to anyone who watches the video that the child was crying and definitely in a situation where he was being demeaned by his parents.  To record a disciplinary situation with a child and then post it online is never appropriate, and these parents should have known better.

The child’s father also defended his actions saying that it was “just a joke,” and that the same punishment was given to him as a child by his own parents.  No matter our circumstances when we were growing up, we must use good judgment and common sense when we become parents ourselves.

Discipline is often a misunderstood concept.  It means “to teach,” and should never be used to embarrass, humiliate, demean, or physically harm a child.  And the age of social media seems to be further muddying the waters of what is appropriate as parents continue to overshare every detail of their child’s day.

A member of the private group in which the video was originally posted was disturbed enough to report the incident to authorities, and the incident is being investigated.  Café Mom continued:

Authorities are still looking into where the video was actually recorded, but in the meantime, the Department of Human Services’ communications director, Sheree Powell, encouraged everyone to come forward with disturbing things they see on social media. “If something bothers you that much of what you’re seeing, and you think it’s important enough to share with your friends and family, you need to report it,” she said, according to KWTV.

Shana Honeycutt says that while the parents involved may not believe what they did was wrong, their actions were incredibly harmful to their child. She told KFOR, “They both need some education on what is considered abuse and appropriate responses and how to potty train appropriately.”

Parents are human, and we don’t always make the best decisions.  Parenting involves a huge learning curve, and our little ones don’t come with instruction manuals.  However, research into child development is clear:  these kinds of punishments lower children’s self-esteem and damage the parent-child bond.

Live Science reported:

The research is pretty clear that it’s never appropriate to shame a child, or to make a child feel degraded or diminished,” said Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan. Such punishments can lead to “all kinds of problems in the future,” Grogan-Kaylor said, including increased anxiety, depression and aggression.

Malicious punishments can also damage a parent’s relationship with their child, and lead to a cycle of bad behavior, experts say. In addition, children evaluate their own experiences in the context of what they see their peers experiencing, Lansford said. If children are disciplined in ways that are not condoned by society, “it can lead children to perceive they are personally rejected by their parents,” Lansford said.

“Each time we [embarrass children with a punishment] we pay a price, and we drive them away from us, and we lose our ability to be a role model for them,” Kersey said. “When you disconnect from a child, he no longer wants to please you, he no longer wants to be like you. You’ve lost your power of influence over him,”

In the tradition of discipline as a way to teach our children right from wrong, a positive approach always leads to a better result.  Setting clear rules and being consistent with expectations helps the child to understand what will, and will not, be accepted.  Parents should always provide a loving and supportive environment that allows their child to trust them.

It remains to be seen what, if any, repercussions these parents will face from recording their interaction with their son.  They appear to be the only ones who thought the situation was funny, and reactions of anger and shock continue to dominate social media discussions about the incident.

Remember, our children are learning from our example and demeanor.  They want to succeed, and they want to please us and earn our praise.  By being positive and supportive, the chances of them mastering a new skill and respecting our rules and boundaries increases significantly.

Do you think these parents are being abusive towards their child?  What kind of positive reinforcement do you use when disciplining your child?  Leave us your thoughts.

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